Tag Archives: indigenous sovereignty

Idle No More

Thanks to my colleague Dayna Scott, for this #idlenomore post:


You by now have noticed the confluence of indigenous groups protesting across the country. Yesterday in London, Ontario, members of the Green Teens of Aamjiwnnaang, a youth group from the Sarnia-area reserve that I have worked with on research projects in the past, joined a march that shut down a portion of Hwy 401. The protest movement initially came together around objections to Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act 2012 (the second budget omnibus bill), which has since become law.

Idlenomore has now morphed into something much more. Now it is a broad grassroots indigenous movement about engaging youth, preserving culture and community, meaningful consultation and constitutional rights. It is about the environment in a big sense – encompassing not just the narrow complaint about changes to the number of federally regulated waterways, but the broader concern about the trend into which this change falls — which indigenous people reasonably interpret as a throwing out of a welcome mat for large energy projects on their lands without their free prior and informed consent.

According to Wab Kinew in the Huff Post, the name “Idle No More” originated from an informal meeting of 4 women organizers in the west:

A few weeks back Sylvia McAdam and three others were mad about Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill. Their biggest frustration was that nobody seemed to be talking about it. Two provisions in particular upset them: the reduction in the amount of federally protected waterways and a fast tracked process to surrender reserve lands.  In McAdam’s view, if Aboriginal people did not speak out it would mean they “comply with [their] silence.” So she and her friends decided to speak out. They would be “Idle No More.” They held an information session under the same name. Co-organizer Tanya Kappo fired off a tweet with the hashtag “#IdleNoMore.”


As we`ve witnessed, #IdleNoMore seems to have struck a nerve. The women themselves describe the beginnings on their website, http://www.idlenomore.com [you can hear McAdam on CBC’s The Current from 19 December, here]

Idle No More began with 4 women, Nina Wilson, Sheelah Mclean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon, sharing a vision of bringing together all people to ensure we create ways of protecting Mother Earth, her lands, waters and people.  The women began discussing the possible impacts that some of the legislation would carry if people do not do something.  It became very evident that the women  MUST do something about the colonial, unilateral and paternalistic legislation being pushed through the Government of Canada’s parliamentary system.  They began with a piece of legislation called Bill C-45 which attacked the land base reserved for Indigenous people.

The women decided that they would call a rally to inform the public that this bill intended to, without consent give the minister of indian affairs power to surrender the lands reserved.  They felt that this would ultimately make room for oil, nuclear and gas industries to tear up the land for profit.  From this rally they also informed the public on other legislation that affected and ignored the treaties made with the crown but also the waters, land and people that it would impact in very harmful ways.

The women then helped other communities to coordinate efforts to hold similar rallies with the same goal in mind – Stand up and speak up against undemocratic and internationally illegal government acts.  These rallies took place all across the country.


Idle No More calls on all people to join in a revolution which honors and fulfills Indigenous sovereignty which protects the land and water. Colonization continues through attacks to Indigenous rights and damage to the land and water. We must repair these violations, live the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship, work towards justice in action, and protect Mother Earth. On December 10th, Indigenous people and allies stood in solidarity across Canada to assert Indigenous sovereignty and begin the work towards sustainable, renewable development. All  people will be affected by the continued damage to the land and water and we welcome Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies to join in creating healthy sustainable communities. We encourage youth to become engaged in this movement as you are the leaders of our future. There have always been individuals and groups who have been working towards these goals – Idle No More seeks to create solidarity and further support these goals. We recognize that there may be backlash, and encourage people to stay strong and united in spirit.